On February 22, 2020, we have a great mix of teams attending the Viking Cup that should make for some fun matches. There are two teams from the Michigan and Midway regions, and one each from the South and Ohio regions. The teams in attendance will be: Cleveland State University (CSU), Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), Western Michigan University (WMU), Ball State University (BSU), University of Kentucky (UK), and the University of Wisconsin Platteville (UWP). Let’s take a look at the schedule (games will be played at the CSU Rec Center).
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Games to Watch
SVSU vs UWP– This game is between the highest ranked teams at this event and may be the most important and telling of the day. It is the first match of the day for both of these squads. They are both sitting at the line of making the top 16 or missing out at Nationals. This game will tell a lot on where both SVSU and UWP stand. In both team’s cases, this is there chance to show that they can play against teams outside their region and not only compete, but win. Platteville has the most to prove with this game as they have not shown what they are capable of and hopefully they understand this. The Pioneers are going to need stellar play from Austin Kurey, Bobby Lehrer, and Logan Stevenson if they are going to hang with SVSU. SVSU had a decent showing at the MDC and it looks like things are coming together for them. This game will be a battle and it will be a close one. I think SVSU will just edge out UWP due to the fact they have been battle tested more. SVSU def UWP 3-2.
WMU vs BSU– I cannot wait to watch this game, as both teams are still very new and very young. WMU has played this semester and has put up points against some very good Michigan teams. For them to take the win against BSU, I think it will depend on the play of Peter Broe. If he can spend more time on the court and less time in the out line, it will spell trouble for BSU. In BSU’s case, they just need to play as a team and control the pace of the game. It will be another close one, but I believe BSU will get the W. BSU def WMU 4-3.
SVSU vs UK– This will be the third meeting of these two teams as they played at the Early Access Tournament at Michigan State and the No Fear Invitional at Ohio University. The first meeting went to SVSU (3-2) and the second match went to UK (4-2). Who will come out on top and get best two out of three? Both squads are close in talent and it will come down to who can be the most patient and let the other team make the mistakes. SVSU has played in a few tournaments this semester, which gives them the advantage. UK will be playing in their first one for the semester and will have to shake off the rust. It is for this reasoning that I think SVSU will beat UK. SVSU def UK 4-2.
CSU vs UWP– The last time these two teams played was at Nationals 2018 at VCU, and UWP easily took care of business. This time around however, that will not be the case. CSU is a much better team and has a lot more talent than they used to. Platteville will need to keep Joseph Walsh from playing his game because he is hard to stop if he gets going and his team will feed off of that energy. The Pioneers need to be able to communicate on the court, control the pace of the game, and attack CSU in transition. CSU will be coming off a tough game against SVSU, while UWP will be coming fresh off the break giving them the advantage. Platteville will get the win in this one. UWP def CSU 3-1.
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The following questions were asked to the captains.
1. What are your expectations for your team?
2. What game do you think will challenge your team the most and why?
3. Any players on your squad that other teams should watch out for?
Joe Walsh (CSU)- The expectations I have for my team is to do our best and strive to go 2-1, especially with playing a tough schedule. I believe that playing UWP and SVSU will both be extremely challenging games and it’s hard to say which one will be tougher. I believe that overall as a team, we are solid and do not lack talent as long as we play as a unit.
Jacob Sebranek (UWP)– My expectations for the team is to go 3-0 on the day. However, I want to see the team do that while consistently maintaining ball control and winning more than three balls off the start. I also want to see the captains and myself who’ve been working on communicating better and more often to communicate thoroughly.
I don’t know the state of the teams we will be playing too well. Therefore, I find it hard to determine who I think would be most challenging for our team. However, I do look forward to playing the host school Cleveland State University because I had fun playing them my freshman year.
The players on UWP that the other teams should look out for are Chad Jakel (Co-captain), Dan Skoumal’s arm, and Austin Kurey.
Peter Broe (WMU)– I expect my team to take our program’s first win at this tournament. I think UK will be our biggest challenge as they are a historically a squad of catchers, and throwing catches is something I have been trying to drum out of my players since day one. The players I would keep an eye on (though we don’t have any jerseys yet so there’s no way to really identify them), are Hugh Pettway, Ryan Allor, and Masaya Tsukada.
Cory Mosson (BSU)– Our expectations are to win a game or two and to give our new players experience in a tournament setting. Our challenging games will probably be UK and UWP. Mostly, because we are still working on building team chemistry with our new people. People to watch out for are the veterans: Damon Huntley, Nolan Abell, Anna Liming, Cory Mosson, and Chad Hutson and the rookies: Luke Hays and Noah Wright.
Daniel LaJeunesse (UK)– We are expecting a lot more catches from UK than we’ve seen before. We’ve been working hard on that the past few weeks, and I believe we have greatly improved. I think our most challenging game will be against Saginaw Valley. They usually have a rough first semester with people graduating and new people learning what they can do, but they always seem to bounce back in the second semester and come out firing. I think UK vs SVSU may be one of the best games of the weekend.
Myself, Tyler Kratzer and Will Taylor are all people to be worried about. Tyler has made major strides since his freshman year, and has now blossomed into an unknown star. Will has also made strides and has really worked on his base skills, throwing and catching. Both have impressed me with the improvements that they have made and I believe that if we had more coverage from the NCDA, the entire league would be worried about this trio.
Joshua Rick (SVSU)– It has been evident that our team is in a rebuilding arc right now, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen success this year. Coming into this tournament, I have high hopes that we have the strength in order to at the very least take points off of every team that we are playing. While we already played Kentucky this year twice, I’m excited to play our rubber match, as well as see what Cleveland State and UWP have in store for us.
Kentucky has had our number already once this year, but the game that I am looking forward to testing our team in a complete sense is the UWP game. They are definitely a team that has improved since my first year in the league and thanks to the likes of Erik Zander, I know they are on a path to be a successful team in the immediate future.
Obviously, I can’t talk about Jake Bruce enough and how big of a threat he is, but another big guy you will get to know is Joe Barber. The kid throws gas and has slowly, but ever so surely been working on his hands for catching. I also have to say that all around we have a solid rookie class, with players like Chris Rucker, Tristan Baller, and Jake Hilla all making big plays in past games, but also developing into players with good dodgeball IQ. Another freshman I have to shoutout is Kyle Krupp, who single-handedly won a 5v1 against Grand Valley at MDC, getting it down to a 1v1. Overall, I know our team has the goods it takes to be one of the best at the end of the day.
Final thoughts– This is going to be an exciting day, as this is just one of three tournaments this weekend. The teams in attendance all have a chance to gain valuable experience and see where they sit at this point in the season. We will see some close matches and may be even a few that come down to the wire. Some of these matches will be live-streamed so look for them on Facebook. Let’s get pumped for college dodgeball!